The Hill Memorial Library’s latest exhibition on letterform and type design sheds light on unknown stone carvers throughout history and modernizes the art of typeface characters.
“It’s interesting to see the ways that the stone carvers distinguished themselves before there was a standardized system for writing,” said graphic design professor Lynne Baggett.
Baggett curated the stonecarving examples from her own collection, built from her travels throughout England and the northeastern United States.
The two-tiered exhibit is an exploration of Baggett’s work as well as renowned printer and typographer Bruce Rogers, said exhibitions coordinator Leah Wood Jewett.
Rogers’ work dates back to the early 20th century, printing books from the Bible, to the plays of William Shakespeare, to Homer’s epic “The Odyssey.”
“Rogers used some of the features we see in the 17th and 18th century stone carvings in his modern printing of the Bible,” Baggett said. “That is one of the cool things about this exhibit: we can see the overlap [of stylistic choices].”
Baggett’s favorite kind of creative distinction in the stone letterings are ligatures. Ligatures are seen when the artist merges two or three letters into one letter to save space, effort, and often to distinguish their work from others, she said.
Baggett’s blog, “Ligatures to Lichen,” is a space for those interested in typography to share interesting finds and photos. She started the blog to foster a collaborative effort of finding examples of typography around the world and to supply information to those interested in learning more on the topic.
The contributions of the stone carvers and significant figures like Rogers are preserved through her blog, along with posts and findings from contributors including typographer Matthew Carter. Carter will speak about Bruce Rogers’ Centaur Type on Nov. 15th in the Art and Design Building with a reception in Hill Memorial Library to follow. Centaur Type is the typeface Rogers used.
Many of the manuscripts and books encased in the museum have been curated since the ’80s, Jewett said. She encourages those who are interested in anything on display to visit the reading room once the exhibit is over to gain more insight on the book that catches their eye.
The main focus of the exhibit is to show the significant contributions made by early stonemasons on letter form development, Baggett said. From carving letters into stone to the multiple font choices on your computer, the early forms of lettering played a massive role in it.
“I hope to inspire creative audiences to further study handcrafted letterforms in the pursuit of creative image-making and type design,” Baggett said.